India’s one of the most versatile midfielders, Lalengmawia Ralte, bid adieu to Indian Super League (ISL) 2023–24 Cup winner Mumbai City FC, as the club announced his departure on Monday. Apuia will now don the colours of Mohun Bagan Super Giant for the upcoming season after signing a five-year contract with the Mariners.

Apuia, aged 23, has been a cornerstone of Mumbai City FC’s midfield over the past three seasons, contributing significantly to their success. He played a pivotal role in the two of the club’s four silverwares, winning one ISL Shield and one ISL Cup during his tenure. Apuia amassed 59 appearances in the ISL for Mumbai City FC and departs as one of their standout midfielders in recent history.

As he writes a new chapter in his club career, let's take a closer look at each of his seasons with the Islanders.

Adapting to new surroundings in no time

The midfielder joined the Islanders in 2021 following a standout season with NorthEast United FC, where he was honoured as the Emerging Player of the League for the 2020-21 season and also captained the team.

Renowned for his ability to dictate play and assert control in midfield, the Mizo midfielder quickly established himself as a fixture in Des Buckingham’s starting lineup during his debut season with the Islanders. Under the guidance of the English head coach, Apuia showcased remarkable maturity and became a pivotal figure in the team's midfield setup, despite the Islanders falling short of qualifying for the playoffs that season.

A standout season including a Shield triumph

Apuia secured his first silverware in his club career with Mumbai City FC during his second year with the club, demonstrating a significant leap in his performance. The midfielder featured in 17 matches during the 2022–23 season, scoring three goals, including his inaugural ISL goal for the club.

Despite missing several matches due to injury, Apuia accumulated 1243 minutes on the pitch, averaging 35 passes per game with an impressive 84% passing accuracy. Throughout the season, the young Indian midfielder forged a formidable partnership with Stewart and Jahouh, instrumental in guiding the Islanders to their second Shield triumph. Mumbai City FC also set numerous league records alongside claiming the Shield.

Sharing his thoughts on the India international, Buckingham once commended him as ‘a unique player’.

Another silverware to the collection 

Ralte’s role underwent a significant transformation in the subsequent season following the departure of key foreign players like Stewart, Jahouh, and Abdenasser El Khayati. Throughout the campaign, the young sensation showcased his versatility and agility seamlessly, making a valuable contribution to the Islanders' impressive Cup-winning campaign.

Initially deployed in an advanced attacking position under Buckingham, Ralte demonstrated his ability to adapt to any role. Under new head coach Petr Kratky, he transitioned to a central midfielder role and played a crucial role in the team's decisive run of results, forming a solid partnership with Yoell van Nieff at the midfield base.

In his 22 appearances last season, Ralte scored a goal against Kerala Blasters FC and provided two assists. He maintained an average of 45 passes per game with an impressive 85% passing accuracy, creating a total of 17 chances throughout the season.

Moreover, Ralte delivered his standout performance in the final match against Mohun Bagan SG, earning the 'Player of the Match' award for his outstanding display under high-pressure circumstances.

A huge midfield void to fill 

The Islanders will sorely miss Ralte at the heart of their team. He has been pivotal in their seamless transition from defence to attack and vice versa over the years. As a dynamic midfielder, he has been a linchpin in their possession-based style of football over recent seasons. Apuia not only enhanced their gameplay but also showcased exceptional work ethic both on and off the ball. Very few players can match his versatility, with Ralte proving himself capable of excelling in any midfield role.